Living in a coastal New England city such as Portsmouth often means many days at the beach with the family. However, as much as we love being out on the warm sand, your toddler typically needs much more stimulation. Fortunately, Portsmouth and the surrounding area offer plenty of engaging, exciting and educational activities for your restless tyke.
1. Toddler Play Spaces
Tire your energetic toddler at a playground or other safe, play area where she can climb, swing and play with other kids. Portsmouth is home to many playgrounds, but Peirce Island Park (cityofportsmouth.com/peirce-island/index.html) is one of the most popular in the area. It is known for its large size and variety of play equipment for children of all ages. In addition, Peirce Island offers plenty of activities for the whole family, including swimming, beach volleyball, hiking and fishing. For indoor play, take your tot to Rumble Tumble (rumbletumblegym.com), a gigantic, whimsical play gym that features climb-through obstacle courses, trampolines and gigantic slides. The only downside to the place is that your little one might never want to leave!
2. Water Play
Portsmouth is home to the largest water park in New England: Water Country (watercountry.com). During those warm spring and summer months, take your toddler here to splash around in the dedicated kiddie areas. These include Octopus Lagoon and Kiddie Cove, both of which feature pint-sized slides and shallow water. If you are concerned about water safety, take a toddler and parent swimming class at the nearby Dover Indoor Pool (dover.nh.gov/recpool_out.htm?id=Swimming%20Lessons) Not only will you have a blast with your toddler, but you will also put your mind at ease and get your child more comfortable in the water.
3. Toddler Learning Excursions
Help your toddler explore the nature of the New Hampshire coast at the Seacoast Science Center (seacoastsciencecenter.org). Located at Odiorne Pointe State Park, the center features educational, hands-on exhibits about the coastal environment. The center offers a variety of toddler programs, including Ocean Commotion, a class that uses songs and games to teach children about nature. Take a short drive to Dover to visit the Children's Museum of New Hampshire (childrens-museum.org), an educational paradise for kids. Exhibits include dinosaur exploration, imaginary play rooms and building activities that promote gross motor skills. The museum also has a yearly Toddlerfest in September, with all learning activities and events geared toward toddlers and their development.
4. Local Toddler-Friendly Events
Many special events in Portsmouth and the greater Rockingham County area are family-friendly events with special activities or attractions for toddlers. The annual Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival (newenglandfolknetwork.org/pmff), held on the last weekend of September, celebrates the maritime heritage of the area. There is always a children's program during the festival, which includes sing-alongs with folk musicians. Another must-attend event is the annual Children's Day (proportsmouth.org/childrensday.cfm) in downtown Portsmouth, held each May. The one-day festival includes entertainment, arts and crafts and games geared toward children of all ages, as well food and treats that kids adore.
- Map of Play: Peirce Island Park
- Rumble Tumble Gym: Play
- Water Country: Attractions & Food
- City of Dover: Dover Recreation
- Seacoast Science Center: Programs
- The Children's Museum of New Hampshire: Toddlerfest
- Sea Coast Online: Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival, Sept 24, 25
- Pro Portsmouth Inc: Children's Day
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images